They are making a strong entry into our supermarkets with the increase in the number of French people who follow a “vegan” diet. But what are vegetable cheeses worth? Our answers.
The idea of reducing meat consumption is attracting more and more French people. According to a study published in 2021 by Ifop for Agrimer, 2.2% of respondents say they have adopted a diet without meat products. 24% voluntarily limit their meat consumption and classify themselves as flexitarians. The remaining 74% are classified as omnivores that eat everything. Manufacturers are therefore regularly expanding their offer in the field.
Vegetable steaks, yogurts have settled in the specialized departments. Now, there are even vegetable cheeses or “false mages”. There are imitations of fresh or dried, goat cheese, camembert, mozzarella or even parmesan. The advantage being to be able to cook traditional dishes such as gratin. But what are they worth from a nutritional point of view?
First of all, you should know that all these vegan cheeses are not equal. They often have the appearance and texture of the original product but their composition varies enormously. “You often find fermented cashews there, which is suitable for vegans. But this means that there are more carbohydrates, therefore sugar, absent in the original version” warns Corinne Fernandez, dietician nutritionist in Paris.
Overall their composition varies from one product to another. Apart from fermented cashew, they also contain fermented soy or soy protein. Others are made from coconut oil, corn starch, cereals, etc. And that’s the rub. Indeed, if you suffer from cholesterol or hypertension, coconut oil is to be avoided because it is rich in saturated fatty acids (in other words “bad fat”). Also pay attention to the presence of starch. Once consumed, it turns into sugar in the intestine.
With the key to the risk, in case of excess, to see the appearance of weight gain. Consequence which itself leads to diseases such as type 2 diabetes among others. Distrust also on the presence palm oil also rich in saturated fatty acids which increase the risk of heart disease. Hence the importance of reading labels carefully. “If you are a vegetarian, it is better to favor the real ones since they contain calcium, proteins or vitamins D, B, or even B12. But sometimes certain “false mages” can be enriched with these nutrients. So you have to keep an eye on the packaging,” emphasizes the specialist. In terms of calories, they are pretty much the same. 30 g provide a hundred calories. Substantially the same as for real cheeses.
Thanks to Corinne Fernandez, dietitian nutritionist in Paris.